GatorZone.com Senior Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators did Friday what head coach Will Muschamp stressed on Thursday at UF’s media day.
“We need to quit talking and start playing,’’ he told reporters on the eve of fall camp.
The team’s veterans took the field early Friday morning for their first practice of the season. The intensity certainly was not what it will be on Sept. 1 in the season opener against Bowling Green, but Muschamp sounded relatively pleased Friday evening on his 41st birthday.
“A good first day. A lot of good retention on both sides of the ball,’’ Muschamp said. “Obviously they worked hard this summer as far as knowing their assignments and things they do. I’m very pleased with that.”
The evening session consisted primarily of true freshmen, walk-ons and the team’s inexperienced players. It wasn’t as smooth as the morning session with the veterans but despite some mix-ups at times, the group finished strong according to Muschamp.
“There was good effort. It was interesting,’’ he said. “It was good effort and energy and excitement and anxiety and all the stuff you couple into a young guy going out [for his first practice].”
Muschamp’s decision to split the squads up on the first day was to make sure everyone got sufficient work. For example, he said returners such as Jabari Gorman and Valdez Showers went to the night session so they could gain valuable experience in calling out signals.
“I expect both Jabari Gorman and Valdez Showers to both contribute for us this year,’’ Muschamp said. “I didn’t want them stand behind Matt Elam and Josh Evans [at safety] and hear them make the calls all night. It’s about reps.”
HAMDAN RECEIVES ENDORSEMENT
First-year graduate assistant Bush Hamdan climbed the ladder to receivers coach – sharing the job with offensive coordinator Brent Pease – with the resignation of Aubrey Hill on Friday morning.
Hamdan coached tight ends at Sacramento State a year ago and in 2010 when former Maryland assistant James Franklin left to take the head coaching job at Vanderbilt, Hamdan moved into Franklin’s spot on former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen’s staff for the Military Bowl.
“He’s a really good young football coach,’’ Muschamp said. “He was a huge part of our throwing game throughout spring in really teaching the offense. I feel very comfortable with that situation. I never blinked. I knew we were going to be fine. I have all the confidence in the world he’ll do a great job.”
Muschamp said Hamdan will remain in that position all season.
Muschamp said all the players reported for camp and participated in Monday’s practice sessions … Muschamp has no concerns about Pease, who also coaches quarterbacks along with his role as offensive coordinator, having time management issues helping Hamdan coach receivers. “When you are the coordinator you wear a lot of hats,’’ Muschamp said. “It’s not like all of a sudden it’s a new responsibility that is being thrown on top of you. He was very comfortable with what we were doing anyways.” … Muschamp reiterated his disappointment in Hill’s departure. “Aubrey’s a good man, a good football coach, and a great Gator,’’ he said. “He felt like this was something he needed to do, and that’s what he did.”